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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro

September 2008

Street Price: $29.99 US
Manufacturer: Spin Master
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 8-12
Primary use: Indoor
Radio: n/a - infrared
Includes:

  • Vehicle
  • Transmitter / charger
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 6 AA batteries for the transmitter

Initial Impressions

Several things interested me when I first saw this car. First, it looks like a believable race car, unlike the strange original (non-micro) hybrid tank-truct Zero Gravity Wall Climbers. Its modest size also makes it easier to store and more convenient to use in more places, while at 5" long it's not so small that you need a magnifying glass to see it well. The price seems right, too. At about $30, it's half the cost of the original and only needs 6 AA batteries in total.

 

So, how is it supposed to drive on walls and even ceilings, defying gravity? There's a high-speed fan right in the core of it, and this takes air from under the car and shoots it out the top. This doesn't make enough force to push it down, but instead, it creates a vaccuum in the thin space under the car that actually pulls it towards the driving surface, causing it to stick!

The car is very lightweight, which should be a good thing if you're driving on a wall or ceiling and it accidentally falls off. The lighter things are, the more gently they fall and the less damage they can do, to themselves and to whatever they hit below! Now, one odd thing about the car is that the wheels you see in most photos actually aren't wheels at all, they're just for show, non-moving pieces of plastic molded into the car. To move, the car has two really small wheels at opposite corners on the underside. They're very, very thin and each covered with a soft silicone rubber tire for high traction.

Preparing to Drive

Getting the Zero Gravity Micro ready is much like setting up one of Air Hogs' indoor planes or helicopters. The 6 AA batteries you need are all for the controller. The car has a lightweight rechargable battery built in, and to charge it you simply pull a charging cord out from the controller and plug it into a jack on the car. AA batteries are pretty cheap, but not having to buy new ones every time the car's charge runs out is a big plus. I wasn't able to test how many charges one set in the controller will give, but based on my experience with Air Hogs planes, I'd expect it to be in the range of about 10 if you use good quality batteries.

  air hogs havoc cyclone

Testing

The car has an unusual on/off switch -- it actually has three settings, one for off, one for driving on normal surfaces like tables & floors, and one for driving on walls and ceilings. In ground mode, the suction fan stays off to save electricity and make the battery charge last much longer. In this mode, it's decently fast for its size, and it has working headlights that are pretty bright. Because of the tiny wheels and low-slung style, driving on carpet isn't possible, so you have to stick to hard surfaces. Steering is a little weird, though. If you're driving forward or backwards and turn, it will steer like a normal car. When you're not moving, though, you can still turn, spinning in one spot like a tank can do. That's definitely not a bad thing, because most cars can't even do that and it lets you go through the toughest obstacle courses and even change directions 180 degrees almost instantly without using reverse. It just takes a little getting used to.

In climbing mode, the loud vacuum fan spins up and when you put the car down, you immediately feel how strong the suction is -- it really sticks. It's still possible to drive around on the ground, it's just slower. Then, you stick it to a wall, and it keeps driving just the same. Then you take it off the wall and stick it to the celing (only if it's safe to climb up & reach it!), and it drives just the same again! One thing is for sure, the commercials for this car don't lie. It really drives on walls and ceilings, and it does not fall off easily. The smoother the wall the better, but even on a regular, mildly textured plaster wall or ceiling it seems to get around just fine. I was very impressed. Because it doesn't truly negate gravity, you'll still find it goes faster when driving down a wall than when going up, and if you try to drive sideways you'll have to steer upwards just a little as gravity tries to pull it down. It makes sense, though, and doesn't detract from the fun, not to mention the awe of turning a wall into a race track. It doesn't leave any tracks or marks on the wall, either, so parents should be happy.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

I like it! The Zero Gravity Micro looks good and works as advertised. Plus, it's not too expensive and battery costs are low. Really the only bad thing is that it's a little loud when in wall/ceiling mode, so if someone is sleeping in the room on the other side of a wall, you probably want to keep it in ground mode. Otherwise, this is a cool little car, available in 3 channels for side-by-side racing, and sold for a reasonable price.

A

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